Rumors are ripping around town about what happened to Vic Christopher, the energetic and charismatic economic development coordinator who was hired by then Mayor Harry Tutunjian in September of 2010.
All I’m 100 percent sure of is he on a 30-day unpaid suspension. What actually preceded that suspension is anyone’s guess because the administration is being understandably tight-lipped since it’s a personnel matter and Christopher was unavailable for comment. But, more on that later because I have a pretty good idea from a number of sources.
Anyway, he’s suspended for 30 days rather than being fired because he is protected by Civil Service, which entitles him to a suspension without pay for up to 30-days and a hearing. He can remain suspended longer than 30 days, but if the city doesn’t hold a hearing and either terminate his employment or call him back to work within that time he has to get paid.
Christopher was hired by Tutunjian, who created the title giving Christopher the Civil Service protection, after he was let go from his gig doing promotions for the ValleyCats baseball team. While not holding any hard and fast political ideologies either way Christopher was Tutunjian’s guy and Tutunjian is a true blue Republican. And as Tutunjian’s guy, he often squared off against members of the Council who didn’t exactly see eye-to-eye with his boss on any number of issues.
One battle in particular that stands out was with then Councilman Bill Dunne, who now heads up the city’s Planning Department, after a committee meeting. Christopher called Dunne a bunch of names and in turn Dunne said Christopher doesn’t have a say because he’s not an elected official. It was a very loud and, thanks to a video that made it to the internet, a very public dispute.
By the way, Dunne was Christopher’s boss but his suspension didn’t have anything to do with the aforementioned argument that I’m aware of.
Anyway, when Tutunjian was term limited out of office after eight years Democrat Mayor Lou Rosamilia beat the GOP candidate and as such a number of Tutunjian’s people, at least those who hadn’t already moved on, were looking for new jobs. That’s the way it goes with political appointees, and is expected when a different party takes control. Appointees live by the ballot box and die by it.
But, as I mentioned, Christopher’s job is protected by Civil Service and as such, he does not serve at the simple whim of whoever is mayor or whatever party controls City Hall.
There are a couple ways Rosamilia could have gotten rid of Christopher if he really wanted to and what would be to abolish the position by taking it out of the budget and creating another one with a new title, or Christopher could screw up and the city could hold him accountable.
Since there is something to be said for continuity across different administrations when it comes to economic development projects that don’t follow the electoral calendar, Christopher’s job wasn’t abolished so that leaves me to believe that he screwed up.
The details are foggy, but I know from a number of sources it has something to do with existing building materials at the city-owned Dauchy Building and the wine bar Christopher is building on Second Street.
Labels: christopher, Dunne, Rosamilia, Tutunjian